New York indie star Matt Shapiro returns with his latest effort Fade In, an extended play that sees electronic grooves clashing with melodic, urbane poetry in six brilliantly produced tracks. Featuring such thrillers as the breakout singles “Rockaway Girl” and “The Addict,” as well as fresh cuts like “Johnny” and “Water’s Edge,” Fade In fuses vicious dance beats with likeable and familiar pop song structures, but it isn’t overly ambitious in its blend of styles. Shapiro maintains a close attention to detail in each one of these tracks, focusing especially on the sublime, existential lyricism that frames these surreal rhythms elegantly. In songs like the effervescent “Is There Something Going On?,” Shapiro’s vocal takes center stage, hypnotizing us with its lush textures amidst an atmospheric backdrop of synthesized harmonies, while in more straightforward numbers like “Rockaway Girl,” he lets the grind of his industrialized riffs do the lion’s share of the talking for him, peppering the track’s primary melody with sporty verses that matchup with the fury in the percussion perfectly. There’s nothing stock about this EP – if anything, it’s one of the more experimental pop records I’ve heard in the last couple of months.
“The Addict,” “Geneviève” and “Water’s Edge” feature some really textured instrumental parts that almost overshadow the brooding lyrical content that Shapiro is imparting to us, but they stop just short of drowning out his angelic singing with glossy feedback. From start to finish, Fade In has a very physical mix, almost like what you would expect out of a contemporary nightclub playlist, although it lacks the plasticity that often lends to the extended breakdowns found in most electronic pop. “Is There Something Going On?” has the look and feel of a post-punk song, but its urgent beats keep it from devolving into abstract ambience, and while “Johnny” is built on a rigid drum track, I’d hardly describe it as being defined by its black and white construction alone. Matt Shapiro doesn’t want to win us over exclusively with the iridescent hooks and catchy rhymes that drive the rhythm of this EP’s most gilded moments; he wants us to become completely immersed in the thick sonic hurricane that they create when played in a single sitting.
Stripped down to nuts and bolts, Fade In is one part infectious grooves and another part emotionally-charged lyricism, but to call it anything other than a masterpiece simply wouldn’t be true. For those who have been following his odyssey since day one, it’s instantly clear when listening to this latest release that Matt Shapiro is nowhere near reaching his peak; on the contrary, his sound appears to be expanding into new and exciting territory at a greater clip than anyone could have anticipated. Personally, I can’t get enough of the stimulating beats that he filters through a spacey but adroit master mix in this disc, and while his brand is still very much a staple of the New York underground, a record likeFade In has the potential to bring him a lot of well-deserved exposure from mainstream audiences around the globe.